Perhaps it’s time to stop taking photos of every little thing?

“We live in a world where everyone has a camera in their pocket and can take photos or videos of whatever goes on around them, with no worries about needing special lights or developing film,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirkville. “These images can be saved or shared instantly. But do we need all these photos and videos? We often see people walking around points of interest taking photos, viewing landmarks through a lens, rather than through their own eyes.”

“Are we all Zeligs of our own lives, wishing to prove our existence by demonstrating where we have been, and what important events we have attended? Do we need these visual reminders of what we have done, what we have seen, who we have been with to construct our personas?” McElhearn asks. “How will people feel in 20 or 30 years when they look back at the selfies they took with transient friends and brief acquaintances, and try to figure out where they were, and who those people were?”

“Perhaps it’s time to stop taking photos, to experience events through one’s eyes and ears, rather than through a lens and screen,” McElhearn writes. “While memories of those events won’t be as sharp, they may be more potent. In a world where people are trying to hold on to memories of everything, maybe the strongest memories are the ones we can’t capture.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in December 2013:

Over the past year or so, we’ve taken to NOT recording our childrens’ dance recitals, skiing trips, concerts, and everything else precisely because we found that we couldn’t really remember very well what happened [studies prove this phenomenon]. There’s a time and a place to record video and shoot stills, but it’s definitely not all the time.

We’ve gone back to experiencing the moment with our organic hardware instead of holding an iPhone between our eyeballs and life.

You should, too.

Study: People who take pictures of art remember less about the works than those who don’t – December 18, 2013


      1. I’m most likely the old guy here (I remember using Apple II computers) and I say MDN and most of the takes here are a whole lotta Wah!

        Seriously, if you don’t like photos of everything, don’t do it. If you do, go right ahead. Those folks are hurting anyone, let them take photos of every mundane thing all they want. If you are obsessed about someone being obsessed with taking photos of everything – don’t you see the irony?

        Live and let live, I say. Knock yourself out.

    1. My SLR can capture things that my eyes can not, both my telephoto and macro lens.

      I get the authors point. Don’t let technology get in the way of the experience. Yes we get it!!!

      That being said, there are plenty of things that I have experienced after the fact when viewing back what I have captured with the lens that I would have never otherwise experienced with my own eyes. One example was taking photos of Pacific tidal pools. It wasn’t until afterwords that I notice an octopus in a photo. It was so well camouflaged that I never noticed it with the naked eye.

      Growing up I remember my parents polaroid camera. I didn’t feel it got in the way of living life. In fact it was just the opposite. I remember having parties and taking photos with it. Everybody loved looking at the photos and it enhanced the moment. Most of us from this era probably wish we had more of those photos.

      Technology is moving forward to the point that we can do both… experience and moment and capture the moment. Google glasses may make you a glasshole today, but they are a major step forward towards where we are headed. I look forward to watching things progress.

  1. Yeah, well wait until you get older and you can’t remember people or events very well; those pictures come in pretty darned handy. If Kirk doesn’t want to photograph things then that’s his decision, and hopefully he won’t regret it farther down the line. I just wish I’d had digital cameras back in the day so I could have taken a lot more pictures, especially ones that were keepers, like I can now. To each their own.

    1. I think the key is in not over-sharing and keeping those pics for your own archives and reference. A lot of this stuff is going to disappear anyway with the technical limitations of realistic foolproof & long term archiving (and incompetent or bumbling media management from well-meaning surviving relatives and offspring).

      I have a lot of BTS film archives from my 1970’s-2000 film experiences and when I trot them out that are very appreciated. I only wish cheaper digital alternatives would have existed back then so I could have shot a lot more. Film and processing was just too darn expensive.

    2. Point in question – one of my dogs was diagnosed with cancer and had lost the ability to walk so we had to put her to sleep. Thankfully all those random pictures of her during the last 9 years means that we have something to look back on. Having the ability to take pictures whenever the opportunity arises is great and being able to sync the pictures without having to think about it makes it very easy.
      So yes, enjoy the moments when they happen but take some pictures or video from time to time. Later on you may want to refresh some of those memories.

    3. Did you read my article? I’m not saying to not take photos of anything. I’m saying that if you’re at a concert, to listen to the concert, instead of shooting pictures and filming. It’s normal to take photos of your kids, your vacations, etc., but some people spend too much time mediating their lives through the lens of their smartphone cameras rather than living them. You don’t need photos and videos of everything.

      1. All very true, but there is still a time and place for these pictures and videos. A few days ago I was attending my granddaughter’s first middle school band concert. The program showed that they would be playing six musical pieces. I recorded two of them with my iPhone, and watched the rest. Putting those two pieces on Facebook allowed the rest of the widely-scattered family to see and hear them.

      2. First, thanks for participating in the comments in regards to your article.

        I’ve seen versions of your article many times before, and one point that’s often missing is that like most things people do in public, there’s an issue of etiquette.

        I take photos at concerts, here’s how and why…

        I shoot with either a DSLR (when able) or a pocket camera using the fastest telephoto lenses I’m able to. I don’t hold the camera above my head, but instead have it right up to my face, so the screen can’t be seen behind me. The flash is always turned off as are all sounds. I’ll take a handful of photos and then stop. I transfer the photos to my iPhone, and then share them freely with anyone who has AirDrop set to “Everyone” or offer to share them to others I see holding up their phones getting blurry, noisy, blobs that look like it’s “some kind of concert or something”. Some of my photos are good enough to have been picked up and published by major media organizations. Others I see being re-shared across social media ad sometimes on the website of the bands themselves.

        I would never do any of this at the opera, theater, symphony, movie, etc…

        I do this at concerts because it doesn’t in anyway interfere with enjoying the concert itself for myself or others. I end up with photos that I can enjoy years later. It’s really not much different from taking pictures of almost anything else.

        If I was giving a concert, I would either have one song or one intermission where photography was allowed or I would hand out flyers (or display on signage) rules for proper etiquette… notably, no flash, no cameras above the head, dimmed or off screens, an no video.

      3. No, I didn’t read your article, sorry. I agree if you are referring to people who take shots of their food and send it to others, and that type of weird behavior. Then again, I find that much less offensive than the numbskulls who use their phone while driving.

        1. The article was about people spending then entire concert looking at a small screen. Not someone who snaps a few pictures here and there.

          I do find people who experience live music through their screen annoying. And… you might take offense… But I also find people who frequently comment on MDN article summaries without reading the article annoying too. More often then not they think they’re making some revelation about the article that the author didn’t cover. When in fact, it was covered in the article.

          It’s kind of selfish really. “I don’t have time to listen to your point, but I’ve got time to build a straw-man argument, and post my rebuttal to that.” To me, it comes off almost solipsistic.

      4. I frequently take photos and videos at concerts. It has not detracted to my experience. In fact, in an effort to have a variety of photos, I pay more attention to each member of the band or ensemble rather than just the singer or lead instrument.

        Sure, I have seen people spend the an entire show with their cell phone in front of their face. But that is at the extreme. It is not difficult to enjoy the show and takes photos and videos. For videos, it is particularly easy since you can hold the phone NOT directly in front of your face.

        I do not need you to tell me what I do or do not need or what I should or should not share, either.

  2. Being in my 40’s, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy going back and viewing the photos taken of me as a child. So many “Aha! I remember that now!” moments that I would have otherwise forgotten and hated at the time, but now I’m glad my parents did it. Is it any different now other than just being more plentiful?

    I agree that focusing on screwing with your phone or camera instead of participating in life isn’t good. There is a way however to draw people into your sphere of memory making and include technology as well. Don’t go extreme one way or the other. Find that balance.

  3. I lived life as a photojournalist. You’re seldom recording 24/7. You can do both. Just learn to edit. We don’t need to see all your family and vacation photos — just one or two definitive, representative images of an entire vacation is plenty. Entire albums seldom are necessary.

    1. The organization that I worked for before retirement used to put out a quarterly journal that won awards second only to National Geographic for many years. When one of the young photo-journalists came over to do some photos of special projects in the country I was working in (2009) – He got a call from his boss in the USA: “Quit taking so many burst pictures and concentrate on taking the good ones!”

    2. “You can do both.”

      Thank you for saying this!

      I don’t really see these as being mutually exclusive. It is perfectly doable, to be at an event and fully experiencing it, while taking some pix as a memento.

  4. Pseudo-sophisticates like to complain about other people’s trivial behaviors. Surprise-surprise, Kirk McElhearn is an Obama-acolyte and hater of conservatives, I’ll pass on inhaling his fumes.

    1. You can do that. Just get a grip and realize that when you show your “masterpieces” to your friends, they don’t think you’re an “artist”—they think you’re a bore.

  5. When my kids were very young we borrowed an expensive video camera for a weekend with their grandparents. When we looked back on the two days there, we had spent one day recording and one day watching the day we hadn’t participated in.

    I also think of all the “valuable” data and photos and media I have “preserved” on floppy disks and those “indestructible” cds. I have tons of files from versions of programs that can no longer be read.

    What I do have is albums of print photos that are enjoyed by my grown children. They have never lost their functionality.

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